YAMAHA R1 (1998-2003) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with"

Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding

"Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with"

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

The third and final great sports bike of the nineties. The FireBlade set the agenda, the 916 added finesse and the Yamaha YZF-R1 topped them off with extra power and madness. Even today the original Yamaha YZF-R1 is a sports tool to be reckoned with and updated Yamaha YZF-R1s are even more potent and easier to use too.

They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but the R1 just makes everything so easy. There are no vibes, knee ache or surprises that mar the experience of riding it, and there’s even a huge space under the pillion seat for a couple of sandwiches. Try that on your Panigale.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF-R1 is a track bike to demolish rivals and wring the rider’s adrenal glands dry. The original 98-99 model was the liveliest and hardest to tame. Later Yamaha YZF-R1s were easier to pilot but don’t think that means they’re soft in any way. The suspension is well-suited to fast, smooth A-roads, but on undulating B-roads has a tendency to get a bit out of shape and shake its head under acceleration over bumps. Keep your wits about you or it could bite.

Engine 4 out of 5

Evoultion at it’s finest – the technology’s not hugely changed since the FZR1000 of 1989 but the Yamaha YZF-R1 has always delivered a minimum of 150bhp (130 at the wheel). Torque is spread evenly across the entire rev range, but things really come alive at 10,000rpm all the way to the redline at 11,500rpm. Despit ethe known problems, the gearbox on this example feels slick and effortless. It’s a bike that certainly doesn’t feel almost 20 years old.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The most common problem on this model relates to first and second gear. The gearbox is weak and either changing gear too slowly or abusing the gearbox too much can cause issues. Thankfully it’s not an overly expensive or complicated fix. EXUP valves can seize. If this has happened the tacho needle will swing round to 7000rpm on start up before returning to the correct position.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

The Yamaha YZF-R1 was top dog sports bike until the GSX-R1000 appeared in 2001. Parallel imports and stiff competition from Honda and Suzuki mean prices stay sensible. But equally there’s no such thing as a good, clean, cheap Yamaha YZF-R1 – they’re a desirable bike and good ones always sell. Honda’s FireBlade from 2002 onwards is a comparable machine and the GSX-R arguably better.

Find a Yamaha R1 for sale

Insurance group: 16 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Extra equipment on a race rep just ads weight so the Yamaha YZF-R1’s pretty minimal. Comfort’s pretty good for a rider although Yamaha YZF-R1 pillions must be brave. Headlights are effective even if the mirrors aren’t brilliant. There’s some underseat storage too unlike later Yamaha YZF-R1s where exhausts occupy that space – although from 2002 it’s minimal.

Owners' Reviews

21 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA R1 (1998-2003) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA R1 (1998-2003)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5.0 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.8 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

One of the best Sports Bike even to date

28 June 2017 by Haraen

I have owned so many different bikes ranging from TLS, TLS, Fireblades, Triumph Daytona, Speed Triple, Gixer K6 and this is my 3rd R1 5PW. Whilst all the bikes are brilliant in their own rights, I always seem to come back to this bike R1 5PW. This... Read more bike is light and providing you have set the standard suspension and that you are a capable rider.....I very much doubt that you will get left behind by the latest bikes in the twisties. Fair enough...the newer generation bikes has 200 BHP and top end but unless you are tracking then its of no use. These R1 5PW has usable power and you can push through the corners lot better with a BIG Grin. Personally R1 5PW looks are gorgeous and feels nice to ride. Don't take my word for it....just get a test ride in a sorted 5PW and you would love it.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
Buying experience

Bought it privately

5 out of 5

R1 5PW 2003

12 March 2017 by Sheedy

Owned this R1 for 12 years. Hard to fault this model, feels planted at all times and power delivery is exceptional. Smooth strong with arm wrenching acceleration. Gives great confidence on winding roads and fast motorway riding is done with ease,... Read more Reliability has been 100% with just the occasional set of tires and annual service. The best quality about this bike is its so user friendly, can be used like a 50cc that turns into a raging bull in a split second. This bike for me has no bad features and would recommend to anyone wanting a 1000cc sports bike.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
The bike is at its best for continental breaks, weekend leisurely rides weekend riding and track days. Rode to France twice with breaks between 80/100 mile intervals which for me would be the same on any bike. Pillions get wind blast at high speeds otherwise their ok. Nick Saunders rode a R1 round the world in record time, so its got to be an all rounder.
Engine
5 out of 5
Power delivery from the engine is what you may expect smooth fast and very willing. There,s nothing to dislike.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Build quality has no flaws, never broke down or part failed. No visible corrosion except a couple of bolts.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
£180 annual service plus brake pads and tires if needed. Insurance average £200 fully comp. Fuel depends on the way its used but you don,t buy a sports bike for fuel economy.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Favourite feature on this machine is its looks. Aggressive front end with desirable panel,s and cool razor back end. Would recommend a gear change indicator steering damper good tires and power commander, other than that its perfect.
Buying experience

Bought privately with 900 miles on the clock advertised for £5850, purchased for £5500 in 2005. Was looking for a low mileage model with one owner for months. Eventually found one in MCN just 2 miles from me.

5 out of 5

Don't believe the hype. It is a tame, gentle giant until provoked.

02 October 2016 by Tim

One of the most versatile bikes I have ever ridden. Light and nimble enough for the city and with enough poke to rule the motorways. Buy it. You won't regret it. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Stable, sure footed and can stop on a dime. It is amazingly nimble and agile. But it is a one rider bike. Don't even ask anyone to ride pillion. They will be miserable.
Engine
5 out of 5
Bombproof engine. I have the carb version. It is pretty much faultless.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
The fairing is light and flimsy compared to the German bikes (or even the Triumph). But the engine and suspension are faultless.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
It is a thirsty bike. Everyone knows that. But other than fuel cost there isn't much else to worry about. Lubricate the chain, make sure the oil is changed regularly, and that's it.
Equipment
4 out of 5
Equipment is pretty basic. Odometer. Tachometer. And that's it. Not that ergonomic either. But hey! Who cares when the rest of the bike is that good.
5 out of 5

21 August 2016 by BarryBallbagg

Bought last year year for 3 grand. Not a mark on it. No mechanical or electrical issues of any kind, it just works. Performance is obviously out of this world and it sounds awesome. Such extreme performance and reliability for £3000 is mind boggling. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Exceptional.
Engine
5 out of 5
Mind-boggling.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Nothing has ever gone wrong or even needed adjusting (other than the chain).
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Roughly £300 for the service. Can't argue with that.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Not much in the way of equipment, but this is a litre superbike.
5 out of 5

R1 carb engine is ace

26 December 2015 by ChrisG99R1

Smooth and Sweet Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Nice but typical jap quality long term
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
Buying experience

Future Classic, still bargains out there

5 out of 5

I love my 2003 Yamaha YZF R1 5PW

18 December 2015 by Ben Bentley

I needed a bike and this was the right place at the right cash, Taking a massive punt in 2011 She cost me £2750 with 12k miles, part service history and sounding lumpy at idle. After a service the issue was resolved due to a wrong spark plug being... Read more installed by some numpty. Most of all She is reliable, fast enough keep up with newer bikes to the horror of "that's a 2003 R1!! WTF". handles well. Best of all these are worth pennies and there are some good buys to be had, If you want a little more power just add a full akro system and a Power commander 5 like I have done. Recommended? Yes, If your on a tight budget and you want a reliable, fast, first big bike, buy one. They look amazing in black and silver.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Handling is nice and neutral, and someone looking to step up to there first big bike should have a look. Brakes became a little spongy due to the original brake lines still being in use 10 years after build, a nice set of Hel lines with fresh dot 4 has worked wonders for the ageing girl. I occasionally and comfortably do 175 miles in one go but tank range lets me down (160 inc reserve) so plan your routes especially in rural areas, you only get a 20 mile reserve. I dropped down 1 mark due to the wife moaning about the comfortable seat.
Engine
5 out of 5
Nice smooth linear delivery of power, provided by this funny injector/carb fuelling, great idea but didn't catch on. Keep an eye on the Exup valve these are prone to ceasing and make things a little lumpy at low end but you do get a warning on dash. 150hp is plenty for the road but there are plenty of bolt ons to be had if you want more power.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Owned since 2010 and used all year round, I have only had one issue and that was the stator mid 2015 at 21,000 miles, I took it to my local mechanic who swapped it out with a non Yam unit as a genuine part would have been £420 +PP. Mine was £499 inc stator, new chain and sprocket, oil, oil filter and labour. There is some corrosion on the front disc bolts and the dust seals on forks are looking a little nasty. I have also fitted 1 battery. Overall she's in good condition for being 12 rears old and still looks lovely when cleaned and polished. Keep an eye on the exhaust Ex-up valve.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
If she needs it she gets it. I refuse to pay Yamaha overheads as she is 12 years old although I have used Yamaha to source a fairing duzf bolt at £9.00. Insurance is OK, I paid £120 last year including modification, but being 40 with 10 years no claims helps.
Equipment
5 out of 5
What do you want from a sports bike? If you want anti wheelie, ABS, traction control any other thing that you need to control the massive amount of power, you need to look else where. I like the hazard warning lights. I'm currently running Bridgestone 016r and I get about 4-5k to a rear not bad. I think tyres are a personal choice and use what works for your own confidence and the bike. I will look in to Michelin next time. Other best bits are a set of Hel brakelines, full Akrapovic system, Power commander 5, full set of R&G crash bungs. double bubble screen, rear seat cowl. I have also fitted some Osram night breaker head lamps (which are a must for any bike).
Buying experience

Private buyer and I paid the full asking price as it was a bargain anyway.

5 out of 5

r1 5jj

13 December 2015 by chunky

had this bike for 12 years and the engine is still as strong today as the day i purchased. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
you are not cramped much and also wrists are ok after a long ride, brakes are very good even by today's standards.
Engine
5 out of 5
low end power is very good
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
only replaced reg rectifier and battery in 12 years 40 thousand miles
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
very easy to do minor service
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

1998 R1 4XV

10 August 2011 by samsex

I have had my white/red 98 R1 for over 5 yrs. I set the bike up as per a Performance Bike magazine recommendation and boy what a superb machine. I have a 15/46 sprocket combo, which put the speedo out, so I fitted a speedo healer unit to correct the... Read more readout. The bike is mint and always draws admiring comments. It is extremely quick, very light on the front under hard acceleration and shakes it head (which i like!) Knee downs are a doddle, although if the tyre pressures drift off a bit, it does affect the handling quite a lot, so you need to keep checking it. The early bikes are getting more sought after, and only a few weeks ago I was offered a 'Name Your Price' to sell it, which I declined. I have owned many bikes, including a Honda SP1, the R1 wipes the floor with it in my opinion. Get one while you can!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

YamahaR1 5pw 2003 review

11 August 2010 by stevejacko101

excellent all round bike, mines a 2003 fuel injected model. Fitted a power commander to smooth the power out, fuel silencer and KN aitfilter, goes like the wind and still looks the part. only one negative, its a bit thirsty on the petrol but the... Read more smile factor overcomes this. next mod is to put a racefit silencer on it and get it remapped and dyno'd.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

brilliant bike

09 January 2010 by leeyamr1

Had my 02 R1 for 2 years and its the carb model not the fuel injected model and its a brill bike will be keeping this one for a long long time thank god for plenty of storage under rear seat for all my onboard camera gear again a great bike Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 21 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1998
Year discontinued 2003
Original price -
Used price £2,500 to £6,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £85
Annual service cost £230
Performance
Max power 150 bhp
Max torque 80 ft-lb
Top speed 175 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.8 secs
Average fuel consumption 38 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type 20v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 175kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 298mm discs
Rear brake 245mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/50 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1998: Original Yamaha YZF-R1 launched.
2000: Revised Yamaha YZF-R1 has 150 changes – most noticeable sleeker tail unit and titanium exhaust.
2002: More changes to Yamaha YZF-R1 for less weight, more power, fuel injection  and more environmentally friendly. Black frame and swing arm, letterbox tail light.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Front view
  • Yamaha YZF-R1 motorcycle review - Brakes
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